Strategy for Revolution in 21st Century
Culture of War Its Relation to a Culture of Peace for the 21st Century


Marx and Engels:
Communist Manifesto

Civil War in France


Theory of History

Marx and Engels:
On Human Nature


Violence and the Origin of the State

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

Marx, Engels, Lenin:
On Dialectics

What is to be done?


The State and Revolution

Lenin: War Communism

The Cultural Revolution

Left-Wing Communism

The American Revolutions

The French Revolutions

On Workers Control

On Religion

On the Arms Race

Militarization of Labor

Russian Revolution

The Women's Question

Role of Communist Party

On Violence

On the Army

On Women

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Mao and Fidel:
Fall of the American Empire

Man and Socialism in Cuba

Hall and Winston:
Fighting Racism

National Liberation and Culture

Cabral: National Liberation and Culture

Nkrumah: Neo-Colonialism

The concept of the culture of war was first presented in document A/53/370, the draft Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, prepared in 1998 for submission by UNESCO to the UN General Assembly.

The General Assembly had not requested an analysis of the culture of war. Instead they had requested "a draft declaration and programme of action on a culture of peace." But the culture of peace could only be understood in its dialectical opposition and inter-penetration with the culture of war. To quote Marx and Engels on dialectics, "the two poles of an antithesis, positive and negative, ... are as inseparable as they are opposed, and that despite all their opposition, they mutually interpenetrate." Or, to quote Mao Tse-Tung: "Between the opposites in a contradiction there is at once unity and struggle, and it is this that impels things to move and change."

The European Union formally demanded that all reference to the culture of war had to be taken out of the UN document before they would allow it to be adopted as Resolution A/53/243. This is described in the history of the culture of peace. They did not provide any reason, but one can imagine that they were afraid that discussion of the culture of war could call into question not only their war preparations, but also the internal culture of war which has always been a taboo topic.

Eight aspects of the culture of war were described in A/53/370 in dialectical opposition to eight aspects of the culture of peace:

1. Human rights: In the culture of war, rights "benefit exclusively the clan, the tribe or the nation" [or the ruling class] at the expense of others, while in the culture of peace all human rights are extended to "benefit the entire human family." To illustrate this precisely, one needs to recall that at the dawn of the United States, less than 25% of the population were allowed to vote, as women and slaves were excluded. And today in the United States many people do not have jobs or health care or housing, although they are all guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

2. In education "the very concept of power needs to be transformed - from the logic of force and fear to the force of reason and love." Education, in the culture of war, teaches that power comes from force and fear, a lesson that is backed up by teaching history as a series of military victories and defeats and giving little space to the nonviolent victories of movements for social justice.

3. In the culture of war, economic growth benefits "from military supremacy and structural violence and [is] achieved at the expense of the vanquished and the weak," while the culture of peace requires "sustainable human development for all." The persistance and dominance of the culture of war throughout history has been sustained by the profits it has yielded: plunder, slaves, colonies, unequal terms of trade, and the bloated profits of the military-industrial complex and the arms trade, including guns for drugs exchanges.

4. "Authoritarian structures of power" are necessary for the culture of war, as opposed to the "democratic participation and governance" of the culture of peace.

5. "Inequality between men and women has always characterized the culture of war and violence," while their equality is essential to the culture of peace.

6. "Secrecy and manipulation of information characterize the culture of war:" "the media is sometimes misused to create and disseminate enemy images, violence and even genocide against other ethnic and national groups, and to portray and glorify violence in many forms. Also secrecy is on the increase, justified in terms of 'national security' and 'economic competitiveness.'" The culture of peace needs the opposite: "Freedom of opinion, expression and information."

7. There has never been a war without an "enemy" while in the culture of peace "enemy images" are transcended and superseded by "understanding, tolerance and solidarity among all peoples and cultures"

8. And, of course, the culture of war requires armaments, weapons and military facilities, while the culture of peace needs disarmament and military conversion.

Although the eight aspects of the culture of war are each distinct, one from another, they are also inter-related and together they make up the integral whole of the culture of war. This is best understood from the standpoint of dialectics, as Lenin stated, that there is "the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon."

If any one of the eight aspects of the culture of war are weakened, the entire culture of war is weakened. No enemy, no war. No authoritarian structure, no war. No control of information, no war. As the American delegate stated at the United Nations, if the culture of peace were fully adopted, "it will be very difficult to start a war."

As Engels described, the origins of the culture of war goes back to ancient prehistory, but it reached its fullness with the origins of the state. Education for power through force, exclusivity of rights, male domination, enemy images and armaments all date from prehistory. But the use of war for economic growth and the development of authoritarian social structures and the control of information were perfected by the state in relation to slavery, and later, feudalism and capitalism.

From the beginning, the culture of war has served to maintain internal power (internal culture of war as well as to make possible international war. In Lenin's words, "... the standing army is used not so much against the external enemy as against the internal enemy. Everywhere the standing army has become the weapon of reaction, the servant of capital in its struggle against labour..." And as Lenin also describes, the culture of war remains essential to modern imperialism.

But the culture of war is not confined to capitalism. In addition to the capitalist culture of war, we have also witnessed the development of a socialist culture of war.

There is no greater challenge for the 21st Century than overcoming the culture of war and replacing it with a revolutionary culture of peace.

To take part in a discussion about this page, go to the Forum on Culture of War on the Discussion Board:

discussion board


Revolutionary socialist culture of peace

Culture of War

Internal Culture of War

Culture of Peace

Education for nonviolence and democracy

Sustainable development for all

Human rights vs exploitation

Women's equality vs patriarchy

Democratic participation vs authoritarianism

Tolerance and solidarity vs enemy images

Transparency vs secrecy

Disarmament vs armament

Revolutionary leadership

Revolutionary organization

Proletarian Internationalism

National Liberation

Guerrilla Warfare


Agent Provocateurs

Communication systems

Psychology for revolutionaries

Capitalist culture of war

Socialist culture of war

Winning Conflict by Nonviolence

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More Sources

South African
Peace Process

Soviet Union
Disarmament Proposals

Soviet Collapse

Has Socialism Failed?

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Ecology in Cuba

On Religion

Human Rights in South Africa

on Nonviolence

on Nonviolence

on Communism

Cuba's revolutionary medicine

People-power revolution in the Philippines